Track of the day: ‘Kurunba’ by Rokia Koné & Jacknife Lee

Ahead of the release of their collaboration album BAMANAN on 18 February 2022, Malian artist Rokia Koné and Californian-based producer Jacknife Lee have shared the track 'Kurunba' along with a new music video.

The song ‘Kurunba’ is a powerful example of resistance and denouncing the customs of exclusion faced by women when they have finished raising their husband’s children. In some patriarchal societies, once her children are married, the wife’s role in the family is diminished and often results in the arrival of a co-wife. If she rebels against this, she could be branded as ‘crazy’ and isolated from society.

Kurunba tells the story of a particular woman who was freed from her isolation,” Rokia explains. “On the day of her daughter’s wedding she sang this song, and the same people who had tried to lock her up were transformed into dogs and flies. It’s like a curse.”

As a member of Les Amazones d’Afrique (the West African musical collective who campaign for gender equality) women’s issues are a regular theme in Rokia’s songs.

We cannot list all the problems women face,” she says. “Lack of access to education for girls, conjugal violence suffered by women in households, rivalry amongst co-wives, and more besides. I call on men to get involved in works that protect and make women happy.”

Lyrics

Chorus:
Kurunba, I’ve got no more to say to you
Kurunba I have nothing to say

I was crazy when I got married,
The door wasn’t shut on me
I was crazy when I got pregnant,
The door wasn’t shut on me
And I was crazy when I had a child,
The door wasn’t shut on me
I was crazy when I raised my child,
The door wasn’t shut on me
And yet, now my child is of age,
Suddenly the door is shut on me
Kurunba I swear I’ve nothing to say

A cruel kin is a kurun
I swear I’ve nothing to say
There are cruel family members like a kurun
I have nothing to say to them
To all of you, kuruns:
I’ve got no more to say to you
Kurunba I swear I’ve nothing to say

In the video for ‘Kurunba’, Rokia enters a London nightclub as an apparition amongst a gathering of some of the city’s most talented young contemporary dancers who react to the song’s high-energy, uplifting spirit. It was directed and choreographed by Zambia-born dance artist Kennedy Junior Muntanga.

Rokia Koné & Jacknife Lee - Kurunba (Official Video)

BAMANAN by Rokia Koné & Jacknife Lee is out on February 18, 2022 on Real World Records and is available to pre-order on CD and double LP (with accompanying lyric & photo book). ‘Kurunba’ is out now on all digital platforms.

Pre-order the album

Featured Release

  • BAMANAN

    Rokia Koné & Jacknife Lee

    Released 18 February 2022

    It’s a voice that soars — pure, clear and true — above bass and synths, traditional percussion and infectious Mande guitar grooves. A stop-you-in-your-tracks voice instantly familiar to anyone in Mali, West Africa: Rokia Koné, a.k.a the Rose of Bamako. On her debut album, she teams up with California-based rock producer Jacknife Lee to reimagine the Malian sound in ways both leftfield and beautiful.

By Oran Mullan

Main image: Rokia Koné. Photo credit: Karen Paulina Biswell.

Published on Fri, 14 January 22

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